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Saturday, 30 November 2013

Book Crack

Sounds vaguely nasty, doesn't it? Book crack.

In my world, the meaning is clear. It's the book I open when I've finished reading to the boys, the lights in their room are off, their voices are down to a whisper and the odd giggle, and I've turned off the heat and crawled under the covers to read (I've developed climate control stinginess as I've become my father). But that's not the crack part. Because the crack on the chin from the iPad when I fall asleep does not book crack make. No, it's the butt crack of dawn that shines through the window when I finally turn off the kindle (really, the facial bruises from the iPad suck) and debate getting up to write, or snuggling down for an hour, maybe two if I'm lucky and don't have something to shower for that morning.

Because it's always with a frown at my own self-indulgence, and a smile of satisfaction at the experience of reading a GREAT story that defines true book crack.

And of course, book crack must be shared. Like any good book junky knows, some of the best friends you'll ever make read the same books you do. And the even best friends are the ones whose book crack recommendations you take without question. Linked me to a book? Yep, bought it. Thank you.

I am very lucky to count extremely discerning readers among my friends. And as such, I constantly seek to step up my own game and find that book that impresses the hell out of them. Gives them a sleepless night, or keeps them holed up in their hotel room on vacation. And even better if it's a genre they haven't read before, or never really took seriously as an option for them.

And my go-to list for book addicts isn't messing around:

The best fantasy novel (first in a trilogy) I've ever read. And I read a lot of fantasy in college. Patrick Rothfuss is a ridiculously gifted storyteller with a wit and way with language that makes readers swoon.

“Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts.”  - Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind

Technically, this book is science fiction. But I don't read science fiction, I read about great characters doing extraordinary things. Despite the 6-year-old hero, the book was written 25 years ago for adults, and remains brilliantly timely and incredibly entertaining. One of my all-time favorites.

“I think it's impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves.” 
 Orson Scott Card, Ender's Game

You'll always find this book in the romance section, and I believe there should be a shelf just for historical fantasy. Diana Gabaldon is a consummate researcher and the world of time travel and Scotland she created is vivid and utterly real.

“There are things that I canna tell you, at least not yet. And I'll ask nothing of ye that ye canna give me. But what I would ask of ye---when you do tell me something, let it be the truth. And I'll promise ye the same. We have nothing now between us, save---respect, perhaps. And I think that respect has maybe room for secrets, but not for lies. Do ye agree?” 
 Diana Gabaldon, Outlander

Because everyone should read this series, and then read it out loud to their children. And because...magic.

“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.” 
 J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Because laughing out loud at 2am in a silent room is the best way to read. This first book of a brilliant series defies categorization: Romance? Mystery? Paranormal?


“I stood and walked around the desk so I could stand over him. Menacingly. Like Darth Vader, only with better lung capacity.” 
 Darynda Jones, First Grave on the Right

Because romance is best served funny, and because real life is well-served with generous dollops of laughter and truth.

“There are only 10 types of people in the world. Those who understand binary, and those who don't.” 
 Penny Reid, Neanderthal Seeks Human: A Smart Romance

Laini Taylor writes like an artist with an imagination that creates a world of vivid new colors, and a smart and lovely wit and makes a reader fall in love.

“It is a condition of monsters that they do not perceive themselves as such. The dragon, you know, hunkered in the village devouring maidens, heard the townsfolk cry 'Monster!' and looked behind him.” 
 Laini Taylor, Daughter of Smoke & Bone

A lovely beginning to a fantasy series appropriate for all ages. It's a favorite read-out-loud book, and drew an audience on the beach in Mexico last time I read it.

“All I wanted to do was lie in the dry grass with my feet in a ditch forever. I could be a convenient sort of milemarker, I thought. Get to the thief and you know you're halfway to Methana.” 
 Megan Whalen Turner, The Thief

My list of book crack continues on indefinitely. So, please, don't frown at the self-indulgence of your own book crack, just smile at the lovely experience of having read until dawn, and then share those titles with me!

Monday, 18 November 2013

Happy Book Birthday!

*A picture of my wedding cake - the best cake EVER!
Marking Time is one year old this month, and to celebrate its book birthday, I'm giving it away.

Yep. Free.

Well, the digital version anyway. Here's the link for Marking Time on Amazon, but it's also free at Barnes and Noble, Kobo and iTunes.

Last year I made big promises of a November release for book two in the Immortal Descendants series: Tempting Fate. Sadly, I may have overstated my rule-of-thumb that all other books can't take longer than a year.

(Sigh) Let's face it, I lied.

I'm not proud of that. It's been the big pink elephant in the room for a couple of months now, staring at me, laughing its pink elephant know, through it's nose.

So in the interest of wresting control of my floorspace away from Pink, possibly regaining a little of my ability to look readers in the eye when they ask about the second book, I'm tossing a couple of details from Tempting Fate into the winds to see if they catch anyone's eye as they float past.

1. I'm currently in London, ostensibly homeschooling my kids for a month while we spend time with my husband as he works here. Really, I'm inventing excuses to drag said kids all over the city so I can research locations for Tempting Fate.

2. There's an amazing exhibit about Queen Elizabeth 1 at the National Portrait Gallery. Just saying.

3. I LOVE the history of the Tower of London. A castle, a prison, a fortress, and a royal residence with a history of secrets, tunnels, torture, death, dismemberment and very famous prisoners - Ahhhh!

4. Ringo is an excellent thief.

I'm not going to promise a new release date for Tempting Fate because that would be, well...tempting fate. I live too much in fear of the sophomore slump, the first-book fluke, or whatever it is that makes readers say "Oh, that author had an okay first book, but, you know, that one took years to write. After that...(shakes head), well, you know."

I'm writing as fast as I can, I promise.

And I'm really having fun with this story. Saira's voice is alive and kicking (in my head, of course - anything else would be just weird) and all the characters continue to surprise me with the things they do (did you know Adam gets really sick when he travels through spirals? I mean like really, don't-try-this-at-home sick).

In the meantime, I've raised my glass to Marking Time and made it free to celebrate its first year of publication. May it enjoy a long life making readers as happy as it's made me.